The four acts that make up the Finnish Constitution provide for a central government divided into three overlapping branches--legislative, executive, and judicial. Their mutual control by an elaborate system of checks and balances has permitted Finnish democracy to flourish. Decisions of the central government are implemented by ministries, semiautonomous national boards, and governments at the provincial and the local levels. Finnish local government is comparatively extensive, has broader powers than that of many other countries, and, in accordance with the Constitution, is self-governing. An efficient, but somewhat politicized, civil service staffs these governmental structures. Underpinning the system is an electoral system that permits the Finnish people to determine their own affairs in a democratic way. One region of the country, the Aland Islands, is to a degree autonomous, a reflection both of its unique linguistic heritage and the respect for individual freedom embedded in the Finnish system of government.
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